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I appear to have got rather behind with my Suburban Travels series. It seems that we really haven’t been out and about much at all over these past few months, especially since the cold weather set in.

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Last autumn we spent quite a lot of time further afield but, closer to home, Itasca has several points of interest, one of which is Springbrook Nature Center.

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Springbrook, which opened in 1980, is run by the Itasca Park District. Despite the fact that it’s in the middle of a built-up area and runs parallel to a busy expressway, there are two miles of hiking trails which run through woodland, prairie and marsh land which offer plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife.

ST Itasca 5One of the reasons that we’ve been visiting Springbrook for many years is the fact that there used to be a fairly large pond that was home to waterfowl, frogs and water rats amongst other things, but unfortunately it has become overgrown with cattail reeds which now cover a large portion of the property and has dwindled down to a little more than a puddle fed by a small creek.

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When we were there earlier last April we saw masses of garter snakes slithering through the reeds, a frog doing some leg-stretching exercises and a toad beating a hasty retreat.

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A little bit up the road from Springbrook is picturesque Itasca Baptist Church which overlooks Wesley G Usher Memorial Park. On a nice day this is a pleasant spot to take a coffee break and sit and watch the swans.

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Just south of Usher Park is Songbird Slough Forest Preserve. This was another ‘first’ in our Suburban Travels. It’s truly amazing how you can live so close to something and not be aware of its existence.

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I found the positioning of this sign rather amusing, quite some distance from the water amid a profusion of wild flowers and grasses.

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Given the fact that Itasca is situated near one of the busiest airports in the USA it wasn’t surprising that we got to see and hear a constant stream of planes flying overhead, a reminder that even though we were standing in a rural setting we were still in the Chicago metropolitan area.

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